Mark 8:34-35, NIRV
You Must Pick Up Your Cross
34 Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples. He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must say no to themselves. They must pick up their cross and follow me. 35 Whoever wants to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for me and for the good news will save it.
- Easter basket
- Plastic egg large enough to hold a Goldfish snack
Have you ever seen someone on television or in the movies save someone’s life? I can remember when I was your age, I would watch cartoons on television. Cartoons were on television only on Saturday mornings. We didn’t have streaming services or smartphones to watch videos any time we wanted. Some of my favorite cartoons were Underdog, The Super Friends, and Shazam. (If you like, replace these cartoons with some of your favorites.) Every episode had a hero helping save someone from harm.
My favorite television show when I was a child was about two firefighters. The show was called Emergency! This television show was extremely popular. It promoted Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in such a positive way that many viewers took training and became EMTs!
In each situation, whether it was a cartoon or television episode, the rescuer was not thinking about his or her safety but about helping the one in need.
In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus wants us to stop thinking about protecting our own lives. He teaches us that if we think only about ourselves, we will lose out and our lives will be empty. I wonder what an empty life feels like. I do know what an empty stomach feels like. Has your stomach ever felt so empty that it growls? (Allow children to respond.) What do you do when your stomach feels empty? (Allow children to answer.) That’s right, you eat some food. You fill your belly. When our stomachs are empty, and we eat, then they are filled with food, and we feel satisfied.
Remember each week during Lent, I have with me this large Easter basket. So far, there are two eggs inside. Does anyone remember what is in the egg from last week? (Allow a child who was present to answer.) That’s right, a glow bracelet, which reminds us of the glow of the Holy Spirit, not only in Jesus’ life, but in ours as well.
Each week during Lent, I will bring with me a plastic Easter egg with something inside to help us remember our Bible lesson throughout the week. Let’s see what is in the egg today. (Create some excitement as you open the plastic egg.)
Today, I have some Goldfish crackers to remind us that when we are hungry and feel empty, food fills us up. Have you ever eaten Goldfish crackers when your stomach growled? These fish remind us that when we feel lonely and distant from God and don’t live the way God wants us to, we will feel that same empty feeling. Except this time, it won’t be our stomachs, but our hearts that are empty. This week, as you fill your Lenten coin jar, think about those in the world who have empty stomachs and hearts. I wonder how you can help them feel full.
Today’s passage reminds us that Jesus wants us to give our lives to God. God will then show us the way to live. And the way to live is by putting someone else’s needs before our own—just as the heroes on television do. We can do this by loving others, even those who treat us badly; by helping those in need; by spreading the news of God’s love. When we give our lives to God, God gives us new life in return! This new life is filled with God’s love, God’s Spirit, and God’s joy. And then we won’t have that empty feeling inside us.
Lord, help me to trust you so that I may give my life to you. Show me ways to serve you; fill me with your grace and love. Amen.